Wynton Marsalis

  • Jazz trumpeter born in 1961 in New Orleans.
  • Marsalis’ father was a jazz pianist and music professor. As such, Wynton was raised in a family where jazz music was prevalent. At age 8, he performed in the Fairview Baptist Church band, and at 14, he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic. Throughout high school, he was active in various music ensembles and jazz bands. When he graduated, he went to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center, and then to Juilliard.
  • He studied with trumpeter Woody Shaw and was mentored by Herbie Hancock. By 1982, the jazz guitarist John McLaughlin described Marsalis as “the best classical trumpet player and the best jazz trumpet player we have today, a great star”.
  • In 1980, he joined the jazz combo The Jazz Messengers. He subsequently has performed with dozens of jazz greats over the years.
  • Marsalis co-founded a jazz program at Lincoln Center in New York City in 1987. Today, he serves as Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center.
  • He has released 83 jazz albums, and contributed to 18 more from other artists. He has won 9 Grammy awards, and is one of only 2 artists to win musical Grammy awards in 5 consecutive years (the other is polka bandleader Jimmy Sturr).  His Blood On the Fields was the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, first awarded in 1943. This recording, released in 1997, is a three and a half hour piece with oratory vocals about a couple moving from slavery to freedom.
  • He has been awarded honorary degrees from New York University, Columbia, Harvard, Howard, State University of New York, Princeton, Vermont and Yale.
  • Marsalis is legendary – he has earned the recognition to be considered among the greatest trumpet players of all time, along with Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. Here’s a video of Marsalis going back to his New Orleans roots and playing Bourbon Street Parade.


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